Top-Shelf Tip No. 210:

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve."

Napolean Hill

Where Are You In Your Entrepreneurial Journey? Part 2

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small-business owners entrenched in their local communities. Some have big aspirations to shake up an entire industry. Some are hungry to grow their business. Others have been running their businesses for a long time and are looking to get out.

Yesterday, Promotional Consultant Today introduced you to John, a financially successful entrepreneur who is looking to wind down his career. He's what we call an Exiter; learn more in this issue. You were also introduced to a couple who were starting their own business. They are considered Growers because they are willing to invest dollars back into their business to support their growth strategies.

You also met Mary. She has a small custom-framing chain of stores that is stable and profitable. Mary is a Glider; she's on an even keel—supporting business growth while she prepares for retirement.

This issue of Promotional Consultant Today will introduce you to Derek who is the fourth kind of entrepreneur—a Speed-Bumper. You'll also learn more about why John is an Exiter.

Speed-Bumpers: Meet Derek, a frazzled-looking entrepreneur who is the founder of an online sporting goods store. Derek's business was growing at a double-digit rate, but he overestimated his market and is now stuck with a warehouse full of unsold goods. What's worse is his bank wants to pull its line of credit and is demanding repayment. Derek, a textbook Speed-bumper, asks John what he should do. John points out that a little rain falls on most people's lives at some point, and entrepreneurs aren't immune. John responds by asking Derek the question he asked the Growers, Jason and Tara, and Mary, the Glider, "What would you do with a million dollars?"

It doesn't take long for Derek to say he would put most or all of the million dollars into his business. While some non-entrepreneurs might consider that foolish, Derek realizes that for any business to succeed, it must stomach at least some risk along with overriding confidence. By stepping back, he realizes that—missteps aside—his company and business model are viable and just need some fine tuning.

John cautions that challenges might lie ahead because some financial options will be closed to him, and the options that are open may carry a greater risk (or interest rate); he may even need to surrender some of his equity.

Exiters. Even the most-fervent entrepreneur will walk away from his or her business at some point. John is no different. What would he do with a million dollars? Not surprisingly, he says, he would invest half of it in mutual funds and put the rest back into the business, noting that it would help his daughter, who will succeed him as owner one day.

John points out that succession planning is important, but too many businesses either overlook it or give it short shrift. After all, who wants to be thinking about the distant future when the thrill of running a business is upon them?

He notes that eventually the time to transition the business to a new owner will come and it can be a delicate process, especially considering the owner's legacy in the business, along with tax concerns, heirs (whether they're taking over the business) and dozens of other details that require professional financial assistance.

Based on John's entrepreneurial advice, how would you categorize your role in your business today? Use John's advice to his friends to navigate your way through this stage of entrepreneurship.

Source: Ami Kassar is the founder and chief executive officer of Multifunding LLC, and a speaker and author of the forthcoming book The Growth Dilemma. With two decades of experience in business finance, Kassar has advised the White House, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank on the state of the financing markets. A nationally-recognized expert on business capital, Kassar has helped over 700 entrepreneurs generate over $300 million for their businesses.

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